Skip to content Skip to footer

Thousands of Italian Women March Across Country Demanding “My Body, My Choice”

The anti-abortion movement is strong in Italy.

Women protest in a "Obiezione Respinta" demonstration organized by the "Non una di meno" movement to remember the 194 Law against abortion after 40 years, on May 26, 2018, in Rome, Italy.

Thousands of women marched across Italy on Saturday afternoon to mark the anniversary of Italy’s 194 Law, which passed in 1978 and legalized abortion in the country.

Marchers fear that the far-right, anti-European Union, anti-immigrant League, which contains many anti-choice militants, will soon threaten the 194 Law. The League stands on the brink of forming a government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement following the general elections in March.

Saturday’s mobilization was organized by ‘Obiezione Respinta‘ (Rejected Objection) and the ‘Non una di meno‘ (Not one less) movement.

“Italian women’s battles over the last four decades show that any abortion law has to be founded on women’s freedom of choice — or it won’t work,” Michela Pusterla, an Italian feminist involved in the Non una di meno movement, wrote Friday in Jacobin. ” In Italy and elsewhere, as fascist and sexist anti-choice movements grow their presence in Parliaments and public hospitals, the fight for reproductive rights becomes larger than itself. It becomes a global fight for liberation; for another society based on autonomy and self-determination.”

The anti-abortion movement is strong in Italy, due in part to the strong influence of the Catholic Church.

Under Law 194, women have the right to an abortion in the first 90 days of pregnancy due to health, economic, social or family reasons, while between the 12th and 20th week, either a significant fetal abnormality must be present, posing a serious risk to the woman’s mental or physical health, or there must be a danger to the woman’s life if she continues with the pregnancy.

The law includes a recognition of the “social value of motherhood,” and allows medical professionals to refuse to carry out abortions on the grounds of conscientious objection. According to the Italian health minister, just over 70 percent of gynecologists in Italy refuse to carry out the procedure. Campaigners say that the increased difficulty in accessing abortion is pushing more and more women to illegal, unsafe abortions or to travel abroad for the procedure.

Italy has been criticized by both the Council of Europe and the UN for the serious obstacles to accessing safe abortion.

Former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and former EU Commissioner Emma Bonino was at the forefront of bringing about the enactment of Law 194. Bonino called on Italian women not to “take their rights for granted,” speaking on the 40th anniversary of the law she helped introduce. “40 years on from the passing of Legge 194, there is still a long road ahead of us,” she said.

Briefly, we wanted to update you on where Truthout stands this month.

To be brutally honest, Truthout is behind on our fundraising goals for the year. There are a lot of reasons why. We’re dealing with broad trends in our industry, trends that have led publications like Vice, BuzzFeed, and National Geographic to make painful cuts. Everyone is feeling the squeeze of inflation. And despite its lasting importance, news readership is declining.

To ensure we stay out of the red by the end of the year, we have a long way to go. Our future is threatened.

We’ve stayed online over two decades thanks to the support of our readers. Because you believe in the power of our work, share our transformative stories, and give to keep us going strong, we know we can make it through this tough moment.

At this moment, we have 24 hours left in our important fundraising campaign, and we still must raise $19,000. Please consider making a donation today.